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Bethune needs to refurbish, repaint water tower

Posted: January 10, 2014 4:36 p.m.
Updated: January 13, 2014 5:00 a.m.

Proposals to refurbish and repaint Bethune’s water tower dominated Bethune Town Council’s first meeting of the new year Thursday. The evening also marked the first meeting for new Mayor Charles McCoy and new councilmen Don Witham and John Fulmer. The meetings also marked the first to be held at the Bethune Recreation Center rather than Bethune Town Hall.

With that in mind, McCoy apologized for not having the town’s flags moved from town hall to the recreation center. He said they would be in the proper spot by February’s meeting. Town council meetings are now being held at the recreation center in the hopes more citizens will attend.

McCoy also apologized for having himself, Witham and Fulmer sworn-in during a Jan. 2 ceremony rather that at Thursday’s meeting. He said there was town business to conduct before Thursday, requiring him to be sworn in before he could proceed and that Municipal Judge Cody Mitchell, who administered the oaths, had a tight schedule.

“Paperwork had to be signed and checks had to be signed. We ran into just a small window where we could get Cody down there to do this,” McCoy said. “I apologize for that. If I offended anybody, I do apologize.”

As for the main issue of the evening, Bethune’s water tower, water treatment operator Chuck Robinson said the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) requires periodic upkeep for water towers and Bethune’s upkeep needs to be performed by September. Robinson presented three proposals from companies that do such work, ranging in price from $56,000 to $86,000. He said, however, that analyzing the costs gets complicated because the various companies offer different methods and products in their offers.

Robinson also said the low bid is for greasing the inside of the tank and painting the outside. The high bid includes coating the inside with epoxy, a more expensive method, but one that lasts several years longer. He said the highest-priced company, Southern Corrosion Inc. of Roanoke Rapids, N.C., said they could allow the town to pay the cost over a two or three year period, but for a higher overall fee.

“We could pay them a little bit now and pay some more next year, but there would be interest on that,” Robinson said.

He encouraged council to act during the winter months, when water usage is lower. The town would most likely have to purchase water from another company while the tower is being repaired, something Robinson said could be approximately 30 days.

“Right now we’re using about 800,000 gallons a month versus in the summertime when we’ll be using over 1 million,” Robinson said. “If we get it done earlier, that will be better. We don’t want to wait until we get 100-degree days out here to redo this tank and we’re using a bunch of water.”

Council agreed it would study and compare the proposals before making a decision.

A related discussion concerned fire hydrants in disrepair. Robinson said he knew of at least four to five that are leaking and more need to be inspected and tested. There are between 35 and 40 hydrants in the town.

“There are some that the stem has rusted up on and if you turned it too hard you’re liable to break it off,” he said.

Council unanimously approved a motion from Councilwoman Beverly Farmer to repair up to six hydrants and have the remainder inspected.

“It would be terrible to lose a house in Bethune because we didn’t have the water,” Farmer said.

McCoy reported that he, Witham and Fulmer had attended The ALPHA Center’s annual legislative briefing in Camden on Wednesday.

“We’re trying to do what we said we would do about attending these functions in Kershaw County,” he said.

Under new business, Fulmer made a motion that council’s monthly meetings be moved to an earlier time. He proposed changing the meeting time from 7:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., an idea that met resistance from other council members. After some discussion, he changed his motion to having the meetings at 7 p.m. and it passed unanimously.

Therefore, council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13 in the recreation building.

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